Category: Mass Media

Health Benefits of Going Green

House plants have always been a staple of many people interior and exterior design. Our fascination and attraction to greenery is long-ingrained in human history. However, new research is show that there may be serious health benefits to being exposed to greenery. A UCLA study has shown that increasing “greenness” in urban settings can improve mental health.

In addition to this, there are a number of other studies which suggest positive relationships between greenness and a number of disease outcomes, such as obesity, preterm birth outcomes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. These studies provide interesting and exciting glances into an emerging field, which highlights the importance of greenness and preserving natural landscapes. These things can improve public health, and likewise benefit our natural environment.

 

 

http://dailybruin.com/2019/04/09/ucla-study-suggests-spending-time-in-green-spaces-may-improve-mental-health/

https://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/2017/11000/Interrelationships_Between_Walkability,_Air.4.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4181932/

http://med.miami.edu/news/residential-blocks-with-greater-greenness-linked-to-lower-risk-for-alzheime/

 

 

 

 

old cemetery with tree

Thanos provided eco-friendly burials, here’s how mortals can do the same

As I prepare to see Avengers Endgame this weekend, I find myself reflecting on the last movie and the way so many died in Infinity War.  As I recall half of the population turning to dust, I remember the phrase we hear at funerals, “Ashes to ashes.  Dust to dust.”  Then my eternal optimist tendencies kick in and I think, “At least Thanos was eco-friendly,” to which my public health brain immediately adds “Are we being eco-friendly with our deceased loved ones?” While, this admittedly provides insight into the strangeness of my brain, this is a topic we really should speak about more.

As it turns out, no we’re not eco-friendly.  We’re polluting the environment with our dead.  In America alone, we’re burying 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concreted, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze, and 64,500 tons of copper and steel along with our loved ones. These embalming fluids can seep into the ground, and the plots themselves take up lots of room which is increasing land shortages in urban areas.  While cremation may be slightly more eco-friendly it still releases chemicals like carbon dioxide and mercury into the air, and uses enough fuel to fill a Toyata RAV4’s tank twice.

Luckily, there is an emerging market in green funerals.  With these burials, the deceased are placed in the ground without any preservatives and little or no additional coverings.  While this may bring up concerns about polluting ground water, the World Health Organization states that it is safe as long as the person is buried at least 820 feet away from a drinking water supply, 100 feet away from a body of water, 1 meter above the water table and 1 meter below the earth’s surface.  If you’re concerned about laws, no state requires embalming, and most will allow burial without a shroud.

So there you have it, you can be just as eco-friendly as Thanos if you’d like.

 

 

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/smarter-living/green-funeral-burial-environment.html

 

https://www.businessinsider.com/burying-dead-bodies-environment-funeral-conservation-2015-10#cremation-is-not-much-better-5

 

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/10/how-to-be-eco-friendly-when-youre-dead/382120/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/bisnow/2017/11/03/urban-cemeteries-running-out-of-space-as-baby-boomers-enter-twilight-years/#4ed7aea9579c

 

http://essentialelements.naccho.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Environmental-Health-Implications-of-Green-Burials-K.-Koepenick-Balt-Co-DOH-11-7-18.pdf

Lack of Diversity in Fashion: impacts on mental health

Today, when one looks through the catalogues and social media accounts of many well-known fashion brands, homogeneity can be expected. When focusing specifically on women’s fashion, there is a major issue of lack of representation in diversity of models. This applies to many fronts: lack of diversity in race, body size, body type, etc. Trans-women and women who don’t conform to gender “norms” are often excluded, and brands rarely depict models with visible health conditions and/or disabilities.

This lack of representation can have seriously negative impacts on the mental health of many people of different ages. Most often, models are skinny, tall, and white. When these are the only women being depicted in the media as desirable – it can weigh heavily on the shoulders of those who do not and cannot conform to these standards.

The good news: the tides seem to be changing. Certain brands have begun to combat these patterns in fashion branding. This is not in an attempt to tear current models down, but rather to lift women of all shapes, sizes, colors and statuses up. Aerie – a women’s clothing and lingerie brand – has taken on the frontline in this battle. In 2014, Aerie launched “AerieReal”, an admirable campaign to promote the beauty of all types of women in an untouched beauty campaign. Brands like Aerie serve as a beacon here and sets a positive example of how to better promote the physical and mental health of their customers.

https://www.entitymag.com/diversity-fashion-moves-slower-models-catwalk/

https://www.hercampus.com/school/western/fashion-and-mental-health

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/aerie-all-women-project-ad-diversity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVJDs9nVbsY

 

 

New Technology: Consenting Condoms

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 30% of women will experience physical or sexual violence by either a partner or stranger. Organizations like the WHO, the United Nations, and Equality Now have all declared sexual violence as a global epidemic that needs to be addressed.

An Argentinian company, Tulipan, has attempted to answer this call. Tulipan developed a new condom to emphasize the importance of consent.  The innovative condom requires four hands to open; ideally this translates to two people working together to open the condom. Tulipan promoted their new product on social media with ads what quickly went viral.

While some are praising the company for considering consent when developing condoms, others are critiquing the product. One of the issues people have identified is the four handed approach itself, noting that not everyone has two hands or have the mobility to move their hands in the motions required by the packaging. Another common criticism is the idea of one-time consent versus ongoing consent. The act of consenting and opening the condom together could give the illusion that consent cannot be withdrawn, which is not only false, but a dangerous misunderstanding about what consent means.

Beyond consent, making condoms more difficult to use could result in decreased usage. If this were to happen, then rates of sexually transmitted diseases could increase. Regardless, Tulipan is helping start the conversation about consent and ending sexual violence. We are excited to see more from this company in the future!

By: Abbey Schneider

For more information, check out:

http://www.tulipan.com.ar/

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/VAW_infographic.pdf?ua=1

https://nypost.com/2019/04/04/this-consent-condom-takes-four-hands-to-open/

https://www.equalitynow.org/the_global_rape_epidemic_campaign?locale=en

https://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/stevens/ct-life-stevens-thursday-consent-condom-criticism-0411-story.html

“Goop” Brand and Fake Health Products

Valued at $250 million dollars in 2018, the “Goop” brand has taken commercial health and beauty market by storm. While many of this company’s products are harmless – such as lotions and accessories – there are a number of products which have generated a lot of negative feedback. In 2018, Goop was charged for false claims regarding two of their products. At this time, the brand was selling “vaginal eggs” (made of rose quartz).  Supposedly, following vaginal insertion, these eggs could help balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, and increase bladder control. None of these claims are backed by research, and even came under direct criticism from a renowned gynecologist and other medical professionals. Similarly, another one of their products – an essential oil – was criticized for false claims of preventing depression.

Despite this, Goop brand has continued to grow, gaining more revenue and customers. Although this brand has gained an exceptional amount of media attention, it only represents one of many brands falsifying health-related products. Companies like Goop often claim they provide “alternative treatments” to mainstream or pharmaceutical agents. But in reality, many of these fake products can be completely useless or even harmful. Many of these products are expensive, and wrongfully solicit money for worthless/harmful products. Additionally, products or methods which make claims to prevent serious diseases – such as depression or cancer – are providing false hope and might delay needed medical treatments. With internet culture in full-swing, it’s important to research the legitimacy of any alternative health products/claims, and to trust expert advice when necessary.

 

 

https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/05/health/goop-fine-california-gwyneth-paltrow/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/29/style/goop-gwyneth-paltrow-dr-jen-gunter.html

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-fake-health-news-may-be-influencing-you-to-make-dangerous-decisions

 

 

 

Social Media is Encouraging Your Kids to Eat Junk Food

Social Media Influencers (SMIs): individuals who have broad audiences on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube.

A new study published in Pediatrics has revealed that the impact of SMIs on children’s eating habits varies based on the type of food. Children who see SMIs endorse junk food, either openly or through brand placement, are more likely to eat more calories and more junk food. However, when these influencers endorse healthy foods, children show no difference in their eating habits.

Researchers think that this might be because junk foods are more likely to be eye-catching, and our bodies are already primed to crave sugars and fats.

Parents are often concerned about their children’s viewing habits. Platforms’ ability to control the content of videos is limited—just look at the recent outcry over children’s videos having suicide instructions in them—and the way that influencers market various brands is less regulated than other forms of marketing. For parents with children who are at risk of becoming overweight or obese, these videos present a threat that is hard to counter.

So what solutions are there? Is this a threat that we can counter? How? Leave us a comment with your solutions!

 

For more information, check out:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/04/health/social-media-influencers-junk-food-study/index.html

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2019/02/28/peds.2018-2554

A picture of a model of a the Beatles Yellow Submarine Cover Art

5 contributions the Beatles made to healthcare today

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson recently announced he will work from 55 hours of footage from 1969 to remake the Beatles documentary, “Let it Be.”  This announcement reminds us of how much “The Fab Four” has shaped our world.  Though we think of their contributions toward advancing music and changing ideas of acceptable hair lengths, we rarely celebrate their contributions to medical science.  In honor of the documentary remake, let’s take a moment to countdown some of the biggest ways they influenced healthcare today.

 

Number 5: Blood Pressure Research

In one study, researchers wanted to know how different types of music affected blood pressure after heart attacks.  They pitted the Beatles against Mozart and found that Mozart lowered blood pressure more.

Number 4: Psychotherapy

In 1976, one researcher decided to study the lyrics of Beatles songs.  He found that the words helped describe many issues facing his adolescent patients.  Once he examined the lyrics, he felt that not only could they help facilitate patient-provider connection and conversations in group settings, but he also argued that understanding the song lyrics allowed providers to “understand in greater measure the psychodynamics of this age group, and thus empathize more effectively with them.”

Number 3: Music Therapy.

For decades, music therapists have used the Fab Four’s music to help reduce disruptive classroom behaviors and promote dancing and movement in children with disabilities.  They have also used Beatles’ songs, among others, to help families of cancer patients express their feelings and work through their grief as they watch family members’ conditions worsen.

Number 2: Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The Beatles practiced transcendental meditation, and often spoke about it.  This led others to travel to India to try it themselves, which ultimately helped further the consciousness of complementary medicine.  Through this consciousness, Western Society became more comfortable with other forms of medicine the Eastern culture has relied upon for centuries.

Number 1: CT scans

In the 1960’s, the parent company for the Beatles record label also owned EMI Central Research Laboratories.  The company funneled royalty money from Beatles record sales back to the science laboratories, which in turn allowed scientists to advance the CT-scan technology we rely upon today.

The Beatles will forever shape so many parts of our history.  Are you seeing any other non-musical effects of Beatlemania?

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.apnews.com/d359254204a2443095ddcafb57a9b31c

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Daniel_Moreira8/publication/288181569_Mozart_but_not_the_Beatles_reduces_systolic_blood_pressure_in_patients_with_myocardial_infarction/links/567ed1b008ae1e63f1e7e7ce/Mozart-but-not-the-Beatles-reduces-systolic-blood-pressure-in-patients-with-myocardial-infarction.pdf

https://search.proquest.com/docview/1295889445/fulltextPDF/A99155AF6ACE43E2PQ/1?accountid=14244

https://watermark.silverchair.com/13-1-39.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAmcwggJjBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggJUMIICUAIBADCCAkkGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQM-RPOE6aDG7x9C1jbAgEQgIICGmsi5JEimyEI4aVq9UT5jFlwOMpb7qmXeZofXHFw0phH6NwxY8ddeUDckxXYAdEvxLfzrSGXj45c0rSA32JBxUkD0PUyvmzMOcxI5xDL9Krxd_lmQrIhsKlk4abqYftgXO3uciXrkKNOUyrAlijMdVUcumDocaz2bJk5t4yl-XP3ST1hS3Ol-_qtUm1oFA1NuLNV4PpnnvrDKdLi1VDgngm14E5-hd85PG_s1AqFllPlFWHfYTd0lgm2Q2dqgHDhWhC6_Sf7luWszusZhtCbf4CjDaRfezGtfOvbESfjchtaHW75kRhVp-nKYK7vo4ALBenTRMQCeFiHRqGunNlIKJCTXn9_7QuCyNYcJaTVjLCdPSDAqdAQiN5nYGbv2lwbODNPgGSeDlsWd-ojSbpayqK-qyn0rRHJvYAGGaJpdxflkgP2-SisKIc046ilXoZ8k8fIKL-FHjSMBd4NlJvAWqA5Fb9Kz3VQTvVQIfiAYsFZmZNm1z-IQtwMRMspHLQ4xWEl4e7ZdztGmmAp4CA9fCHsMspAGg7Pp7zgfZhf-R2vqZ79L1lYGsEziAjGIIJASOCp6B4ylcRoq8pe8hNmFYz23ldG4YHl77OVocYSFNR_Wc6DJfkD7d4AB6ELRKx1zs4JuLEc-ih9xu6OSA1BBdLdJdrg0AO5pjXA2MZ_doMSbI6OSLeH0TWPaaHvPPX1tdp5rpbrHibbwDI

https://watermark.silverchair.com/24-1-2.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAmQwggJgBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggJRMIICTQIBADCCAkYGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQMh0I-WlUUTcH6LQvZAgEQgIICF_FmtpckTgMVZOnFwx-ehFuzDYSkuuY1Am8fAUdeLX5pYTEgjMAl8OulhcWQlM2gb3-H39U7mtg0KlUaGGW98AxPQmjZs2A-eocYS5XImRgbE1D57wJyHKyDWk3j-7-rcwh5ap3nsGh5myAR70MAq986kGxa8ZFFnELum7xnNAVwHByM8dC9tQ8kKW7hGGfDHUzRcQ8nT2-l0rsC15OUif5JhCabVLagFiAeZIXj7OzFqXUvmhgVbCKQt0acHSH0FtMiXwsknYsT3E90WKR9ZizvfRTqT4OsUhvo3dhZpw_v-FI7Nt5NuIeWvc1LW7ZqSxYGNgX43ibcaIwGWQBd0vX9GFZ6mNdI1vczqwDmPeXfQw52IHmuNZBXqXU_-gj5W4CmIBHIdfjaGZBf_f0QE8daXhLD8DnxQWVWof7O6ss0MbD8tK-VCStTXjfvON7wv50XKhvhHYjTF6HoC6-Kt1ZrDrD6N401iNvoqdzXgMUp56QM5fYNEfut1Z6t7sto1dCySV-quyUGwi2vW5F3PFqd-XwIuTP94IFk8doxNInjQyrzbuDr8iYUUYo2F-kKTvnvbRnfeQIr9PbNmeFlXlqwz7MPn3ceVaKdZuciI6RRrshK92dz55La2mTUXIYG3XJHa5tycldaDkdkNdiTbokEJnxLnXdlwQ5Tw903qbL7Hz4s4sSaV8XQ7X-M7Bi9vWJJLh00E3Q

https://watermark.silverchair.com/4-1-5.pdf?token=AQECAHi208BE49Ooan9kkhW_Ercy7Dm3ZL_9Cf3qfKAc485ysgAAAnIwggJuBgkqhkiG9w0BBwagggJfMIICWwIBADCCAlQGCSqGSIb3DQEHATAeBglghkgBZQMEAS4wEQQMGp0CA1GrP8xZxalRAgEQgIICJQXxxmftUb2Noeq0hOqo5p-U0orRNPERULLqlsxcgGK5XdYA71J_tOR2KdpdDhcoa3R5Qlok3-1rQ_bTupgv6xj_ZOZPyPBUL3w8KThYzqqGitp4ezbU6iQVp1JPkGCA0H0j6xIfQzAYFjaVqWHhjVHf1XyllyADineRlPqxicL0wK6skkTDPH0pYDPsZCHTscpnlHUWv5UBjCQmF-RkhBrNvPOEmoHjX166ee7EdhTANGlOlA-BE6LP2PsdZw_yZXvJH_CAFVYqJMvXhPmiKw-lpYHZG22wt0_iP600k-AjNEm1i5_oxEYa6VN_SaVK7MZ6lNCjbijA2T5FaeRLxDomPQlRC9JkWyN0mgtwu_PJoE-Sves8BRUkSZEART3l-7n35oQuIQsWvtSKabGlEa5bKxd0X4_EUntpAtpIkMjupRB13W5oohVG2oZVkVTDwMAM3HfTjJFX_MhQW2MnqnsFeNSRPsy1sBv7h6BriVk2cpQ_Msyirm3KYSOWc-d7M3uG6bTU2CPJDtKqyaWtd2AvLaZ-y0NNO297QMwQLluFUNJK3cFXYdk-_9HyVYBXu-7WhyqIruE0VPzYqg3qhujyNiAD5gx08EOI8aGqlpD9liYxdnqsS2CEBh4nuBIoOdIcznYJ2Gvq6P-F5bGl099mx8-cH8V_Tj3U8xUoXAAa0ogXw51sDfI60qqyUevsGFlGhKGULLceS7nKa6OmsRB1T8Nzog

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1442-2018.2011.00587.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3295369/

FDA Crackdown on Misleading Dietary Supplements

The United States is in the midst of a scientific wave. We are lucky to live during a time where new and effective medicines have changed the way we can prevent and treat chronic disease. However,  we have begun to see that fraudulent claims and products accompany this innovation. Amongst these deceptive products, dietary supplements are amongst the guiltiest parties.

The dietary supplement industry is extremely prosperous, with a market size of nearly $112 billion. Although some dietary supplements are effective, there are many which provide no benefit or can even cause harm to a consumer. Many false products make sweeping claims which have absolutely no backing evidence – such as dietary supplements which advertise that they can prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Dietary supplements do not have to be reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before hitting the market. They can only be taken down afterwards if they have shown to cause adverse health outcomes or if the product is fake/misleading.

Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a statement regarding just this. This press announcement calls for a new, massive regulation of dietary supplements. The FDA is addressing this issue because they believe ineffective dietary supplements can cause a great deal of harm when people take them as alternatives to approved treatments. This new statement provides a hopeful potential of establishing a more honest and less misleading supplement market.

 

https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2018/02/17/fake-supplement-issue-no-one-talking-beware-amazon/

https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm631046.htm

https://www.fda.gov/Food/DietarySupplements/UsingDietarySupplements/ucm109760.htm

https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm631065.htm

 

 

Blame it on the Alk(aline)?

These days, it’s hard to keep up with what’s truly “good” or “bad” for your health. However, through all the changing trends, one thing has been steadfast: water. Water is one of the most necessary and obvious components for healthy living. Now, people are turning their eyes towards alkaline water, wondering if there’s a way to make drinking water even more healthy.

Alkaline water is just like regular water, except it has a higher pH level. pH levels dictate how acidic or non-acidic (basic) your water is. If it has a higher pH level – like alkaline level – it’s more basic than regular water. Alkaline water has salts and metals which make it unique from normal drinking water. It’s more common than you think, brands like Smart Water and Essentia offer alkaline water products.

So why drink it? Many sources claim drinking alkaline water has a number of health benefits. According to those who support it, alkaline water is rich in antioxidants, can help balance pH levels, lead to better hydration, boost the immune system, and many more benefits. However, like many nutritional fads, there is still not conclusive evidence these claims. And like anything going into your body, it’s important to consume everything in moderation.

 

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/29/health/alkaline-water-benefits-explainer/index.html

https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/what-alkaline-water-does-to-your-body/

https://alkalinewatermachinereviews.com/alkaline-water-benefits/

https://www.healthline.com/health/alkalosis

 

Online and IRL: Let’s Talk About Health Advocacy

Our smart phones deliver more than just answers to our Google questions. Mobile phones make communicating with each other easier than ever. About 95% of people in the United States own a cell phone of some kind; 77% own a smart phone. Nationally, the Pew Research Center estimates that seven out of ten people use at least one social media platform to connect with one another, read news, or for entertainment.

Combined with the availability of mobile phones, social media is the perfect avenue for advocacy on today’s public health problems.

By enabling its users to share experiences or expertise about issues, social media helps inform broad audiences about topics like mental health or diet and exercise. Influencers–people who have amassed large audiences on social media–inspire audiences to take action with just one photo or video. They donate to causes or make phones calls to elected officials about pertinent issues. Other times, the influence of messages shared through social media is more subtle. Among other things, they can help us feel more comfortable talking about difficult topics in our everyday conversations with colleagues or friends.

While “likes” and reposts serve as one way to advocate, it is crucial that we have conversations about public health in real life.

Get involved in local advocacy efforts in the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) by connecting with the North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NC NAACP) and Minority Health Caucus who host their signature advocacy events in February. The NC NAACP follows a long tradition of social justice advocacy via the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HK on J) on February 9th and the Minority Health Caucus will lead it’s 40th Annual Minority Health Conference on February 22nd. Both events are great ways to learn about local issues and take action both in person and by raising visibility of issues using social media.

 

By Maribel Sierra

 

Statistics from:

Pew Research Center. (2018, February 5). Demographics of Mobile Device Ownership and Adoption in the United States. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/mobile/

Pew Research Center. (2018, February 5). Demographics of Social Media Users and Adoption in the United States. Retrieved January 31, 2019, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/